Friday, 26 April 2013

Butterflies and Brownfields in Leeds

This weekend, Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development (  and CPRE (  will be hosting a conference in Leeds to examine the implication of the new National Planning Policy proposals.

I`m not a great lover of `conference culture` myself, but no doubt we`ll be able to judge the outcome by visiting the websites of the two organisations in the near future.

In the meantime, this article may be of interest ;

The environmental groups mentioned may well have a point in their objections to the new proposals. Their arguments certainly merit close attention - give their sites a visit and see what you think.

The only slight reservation I would voice is that in their understandable eagerness to defend our countryside, environmentalists sometimes imply that there is little or no environmental impact from building on brownfield sites, which is not automatically the case.

Anyone interested in this issue may want to see my article `Butterflies and Brownfields`, posted 26 June 2012 at .

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Use Your Vote on May 2 !


The estimable Amber Valley Info is quite rightly urging people to use their vote on 2 May when the County Council elections take place in various parts of the country ;

It only remains for me to add this useful link  ;

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

History and Heritage in Alford and Horncastle

Let`s cast a lingering look over Lincolnshire.

News reaches my ears of a newly-formed, community-based charity set up to preserve and manage the Alford Corn Exchange.

Aside from it`s historical and architectural merits, the old Corn Exchange provides a meeting place for assorted community groups, hosts live shows by elderly rock groups and is one of the venues for the Alford Jazz Weekend.

The new charity is to be called Alford Corn Exchange Community Group but is sometimes referred to by it`s old name, Save Alford Corn Exchange. It does not seem to have it`s own site or blog, but it`s activities have been covered by The Skegness Standard (, the Louth Leader ( and the East Lindsey Target (

Over in Horncastle, efforts are being made to restore and preserve the remains of the market town`s ancient Roman wall.

A useful article here is `Horncastle`s Roman wall set to be restored`, posted by Claire1222 on Tues 16 Apr 2013 at . This article appeared in the East Lindsey Target on Wed 17 Apr 2013 under the headline `Roman Wall could be restored to past glory` and was credited to local journalist Claire Farrow.

Also good is an unsigned article, `Organisations join to save Roman wall`, posted 6 Apr 2013 at . (I presume the headline was meant to read `Organisation join forces...` ).

Other useful links can be found here ; .

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Walk, Run or Stroll for Derby Hospitals Charity in Cromford on 12 May 2013


On 12 May 2013, Derby Hospitals Charity will be running two simultaneous fund-raising events in Cromford and surrounding area.

For more intrepid souls, there is the opportunity to follow a 15 mile route described by the organisers as "challenging" , starting at Matlock Rugby Club, Cromford Meadows. Participants can decide for themselves whether to walk the route or take it at a run (I know which I`d choose!).

The more family-friendly version is a 2 mile stroll along the banks of the Cromford Canal, followed by a family fun day at the Rugby Club.

Please note that the longer route is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs, though the shorter canalside walk is more accessible.

There is an entry fee for each walk.  The idea is that these fees will cover the cost of organising the event and that participants seek sponsorship to raise money for the charity.

Further details from the Derby Hospitals Charity at and/or .

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Lord Leveson`s Legacy

During the recent inquiry into the murkier areas of press activity, Lord Leveson stressed that criticisms of the culture of the major titles did not apply to local papers which he praised for making a contribution to local life that is "truly without parallel." 

He might have added that many local papers have been at the forefront of popular campaigns to save treasured local amenities - libraries, coastguard stations and publicly-owned woodlands come to mind.

Clubs and societies of many types, shapes and sizes benefit from the publicity a local paper can provide.

It`s understandable, therefore, that the nation`s smaller, independent newspapers have reacted with anger on discovering that proposals to regulate the press wil apply to them just as much as to larger newspapers.

The Southern Daily Echo`s Ian Murray was one of the first to respond, and his comments are among the more memorable contributions to the debate ;

"We have neither hacked into phones nor deliberately set out to deceive, compromise nor vilify, and yet we will be caught in this expensive, debilitating new regime, thought up by politicians and lawyers to impress the voters, curry favour with celebrities and let themselves off the hook."

He`s kidding himself if he seriously believes that this "new regime" was created solely to "impress the voters" and to "curry favour with celebrities" and not to address serious concerns. Still, he has a point.

The Craven Herald waded into the debate enthusiastically, quoting Mr Murray at length and adding it`s own thoughts on the idea of independent arbitration panels ;

"On paper it sounds like a good idea. In practice it could cost local newspapers thousands of pounds to settle even minor disputes over stories.

Unlike the nationals, we don`t have large legal teams and pots of cash set aside for potential pay-outs. Any new cost we incurr inevitably leads to savings elsewhere."

Like the Southern Daily Echo, they get a bit carried away with a melodramatic sideswipe at "those who wish to shackle press freedom"  but their point that "a timid local press was never the intent of Leveson or these regulations" is a good one.

They might have added that increasingly smaller titles are either being swallowed up by large conglomerates or simply shutting up shop altogether.

 To my mind, the last thing we need is to stifle the few independent voices still left in medialand.

For those who take an interest in such things, the Suthern Daily Echo is at and the Craven Herald can be found at .

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mr Beeching Took His Axe...

The Huddersfield Examiner has been considering the 50th Anniversary of the Beeching Report in a number of articles recently  ;

27 March 2013 - Cheryl Mullen - Rail Campaigners Mark Beeching Reports` 50th Anniversary
28 March 2013 - Unsigned - Slaithwaite Station Bounced Back After Beeching Axe
30 March 2013 - Unsigned - How Beeching`s Rail Axe Affected Huddersfield`s Stations
04 April 2013 - Andrew Hirst - Peniston Lane on the Right Track

The articles can be found here ; .

Unfortunately, missing from the site is an interview with local railway expert Prof Paul Salveson, Councillor for Golcar and Milnsbridge, who discusses, inter alia, GLAM Trac (Golcar, Longwood and Milnsbridge Transport Campaign). The interview, conducted by Andrew Hirst,  appeared in The Weekend Examiner 30 March 2013.  If anyone wants to see it, I`m sure an e-mail to the Examiner would bring results.

The National Forest Walking Festival 2013

The National Forest Walking Festival 2013 is due to take place 18 - 30 May, and promises "walks for all ages and abilities".

I`d have to qualify that by saying that there`s nothing on offer for those who favour a fairly arduous outing.

That aside, there should be something for must tastes, incluiding a few with a ocal history theme.

Details from .

Also coming up  ;

Chesterfield Area Walking Festival, 11 - 19 May 2013 - .

Peak District Walking and Outdoor Festival, 26 April - 12 May 2013  - , .

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Another Humanist-Believing in a God is Fine by Me says Jim Al-Khalili

I`ve been thinking about writing a short piece clarifying what `humanism` means to me for some time, but so far I`ve not got round to it.

One particular aspect I wanted to adress is the assumption some make that because one is explicitly not religious, one must automatically be anti-religious, which is not the case for me. After all, how many people define themselves by what they are not ? Not me, that`s for sure.

Anyway, my humble thoughts on the matter are going to wait a while longer, but in the meantime you may wish to ponder a recent article by the British Humanist Association`s Jim Al-Khalili.

Entitled `Believing in a god is fine by me`, Jim`s piece was one of a number of articles submitted by moderately famous folk in response the New Statesman`s question `After God : What Can Atheists Learn From Believers ?`.

The other contributors didn`t really strike a chord with me (I`m not really a New Statesman kind of guy), but I like Jim`s thinking, it`s a fine article and I`m glad he wrote it.

Give it a whirl, you never know what you like until you`ve tried it ;

Heanor Market, Heanor Farmer`s Market

Can I manage a second plug for Heanor Market so soon after the first ?

Yes I can.

To learn more about the market, click here ;

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Suffragette City

I`m interested in the history of the suffragette movement in the same way that  I`m interested in, say, the Magna Carta or the Civil War. I`m by no means an expert and I`m content to pick things up as I go along, but it is interesting and I hope to encourage others to share the interest.

A couple of recent newspaper articles are particularly good ;

Unsigned - `After 100 Years, Has the Real Story Emerged at Last about Emily`s Fate ?`  - Morpeth Herald, 30 March 2013. Not the snappiest of headlines, but a good article nonetheless, one of a number of articles about the life of Emily Wilding Davison to appear in this paper recently, with more to come. Online at .

On 6 April 2013, the `Times Past` section of the Yorkshire Evening Post (  ran an article with the unusual headline `Concerns Giving Women the Vote Would Wear Out Car Tyres`. The article concerned itself with comments made by Cllr A Willey to Leeds City Council on 6 April 1911. The Council had passed a resolution suporting the Women`s Enfranchisement Bill introduced in Parliament by George Kemp MP. Cllr Willey was the only member to oppose the resolution. It is not clear how serriously he took the matter, though he did express some apprehension as to the likely response of Mrs Willey when she heard of his comments !

Sunday, 7 April 2013

A Little Night Reading

This probably won`t be of much interest to anyone but me but I`m going to tell you anyway.

When I was a young lad, I read and enjoyed a particular ghost story which involved an individual who accepts a bet to spend the night in a haunted house, the consequences of his doing so and a chance meeting of the parties to the wager years after the event.

The book I read it in was not my own, but belonged to Sherwood Community Centre, Nottingham where my mother did some sort of voluntary work. I always remember there was a room there with one wall given over to shelves of  books which fascinated me greatly.

For some reason this story lodged in my mind and I always wondered if I`d come across it again, though of course I`d long since forgotten the title and author`s name. 

By sheer chance recently I came across a battered old copy of  Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, edited by Herbert A Wise and Phyllis Fraser for Hammond, Hammond and Co, available to the discerning book buyer for 25p from a charity shop near my home. 

You`ve probably guessed the rest. Working my way through this epic tome, one story began to seem somewhat familiar and lo and behold I was re-united with the story which for some reason fascinated my younger self. It was like meeting an ex-girlfriend at a train station or something like that.

For the record, the tale in question turns out to have been The Gentleman From America* by Michael Arlen. It may not actually be the work of genius that I imagined it to be but it holds up pretty well even in the context of an anthology containing impressive tales from W W Jacobs, Alexander Woolcott, John Collier and many others.

Despite the rather naff cover art, on current showing (I`m about a third of the way through), this is a pretty neat volume, well deserving of a space on your shelves if, like me,  you like that sort of thing.       

* A quick look at Arlen`s Wikipedia page reveals that the story was adapted for TV as part of the `Alfred Hitchcock Presents...` series in 1956. It would be interesting to know how that turned out.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Common Sense in Kirklees

Common sense has prevailed in Kirklees, where a consultation has showed little support for a council-driven proposal  that eight village libraries become volunteer-run.

There is, however, considerable interest in the idea of communities supporting their library through `Friends` groups, and new groups are being set up in Golcar, Marsden and Slaithwaite.

Councillors are also considering a number of other suggestions from the public, such as Sunday opening, the provision of refreshments and in one case, a possible change of location.

(Joanne Douglas - Results of Library Review in Golcar, Marsden and Slaithwaite Being Considered - Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 30 March 2013 -

We`re Back !

We`re back on line and, like Messrs Scollins and Titford, are ready to say a cheery "Ey Up Mi Duck !" to all and sundry !

Our next newsletter will appear online in the very near future, but while you`re waiting, you may wish to browse our catalogue by clicking on this link  ;